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As I write this, House members were still nose-to-nose, haggling over the budget, and the Senate had begun the process. How is it, you might ask, that the two parties are stalled on what amounts to 1 or 2 percent of the total budget?
The education arguments by now look like deep ruts in a dirt road, the kind that wheels and water keep following because it’s difficult to do anything else. We’ve heard them in countless meetings, newspaper commentary, and legislative hearings. So I wasn’t expecting the House floor debate to be much different, and yet there were some points made that bear repeating.
House Minority Leader Don Bratton, R-Hobbs, reminded everyone that the state’s financial underpinnings are oil and gas, but hanging our hats on oil prices is precarious because the horizontal drilling and fracking that increased production here have increased production everywhere else. Supply and demand could tilt prices against us.
Employment growth in the state is inching along at 1 or 2 percent, so increasing the budget 4.8 percent doesn’t seem prudent to him.
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